A Letter to My Friend Who Wouldn’t Believe I’m Autistic
Dear Friend Who Won't Believe I’m Autistic,
“Dear” feels like a weird way to start this letter.
What I really want to say is “Fuck You.”
I was so nervous to tell you when I found out I was autistic. I was nervous because of how you might respond. I suspected you might not believe me.
Sure enough, you just looked at me with your tepid glare as you sucked on your cigarette. We were sitting outside, talking in your backyard as we normally do.
I had asked you long ago not to smoke around me. You responded by always walking 10 feet away to smoke. I could always still smell it. I knew it was filling me with its cancer-causing particles. I’ve had cancer. My mother died from it, as did both of her parents.
I should have asked you to not smoke at all or leave.
Your smoking ties directly to your response to my autism. Similarly, you didn’t care about its impact on me. You only care about what you think is important.
I know you didn’t believe me, so you didn’t say more. Whenever something interests you or you think it is valuable, you ask questions. Do you really think you were hiding in your silence?
Learning I am autistic has changed everything about my life. How I see myself. How I treat myself. How I interact with the world. What I expect from the world.
It’s why we’re no longer friends.
Autism isn’t the cause. You actually were not a good friend all along. It’s just that my autism diagnosis helped me to see that.
It helped me to see all the ways you were centering yourself. All the ways you ignored what was important to me. All the ways you reinterpreted my lived experiences and made me question my own reality.
It’s hard to talk about this because I know you always intend to help. I know you intend to do good in the world. But it is always on your terms. How you see fit. If someone doesn’t see it your way, you think it’s because they have something to learn or grow into.
You cannot see the world outside of yourself.
You never saw me. I always felt like that. I think I clung to you because of an odd mix. I could sense you genuinely cared, and that was rare in my life. Second, I was used to people not understanding or seeking to understand my perspective. That was my norm, so I could tolerate and look past those things.
But that’s not the life I want. Learning I was autistic helped me to see I’m not broken. I don’t need to endlessly try to please others. I am fine how I am. Maybe sometimes the problem is actually other people.
And so you are not in my life anymore. We wish each other Merry Christmas and text on other holidays, but that is all we shall be.
I cannot do the work of changing how you see me. I cannot do the work of changing how you interact with the world. I cannot do the work of opening your eyes. For that would be doing to you what you tried to do to me.
I am willing to accept that we are different, and that your way of being is what works for you.
It just doesn’t work for me.
And as I conclude this letter, I no longer feel the strong “Fuck You.” The anger has dissipated into sadness. I am sad for how you move in the world. I am sad for how much smaller and smaller your world gets. But I cannot jump in there with you, for I would have to shrink myself to do it.
So this is my goodbye dear friend. I wish you the best. I know you will probably never understand this letter, and that is yet another reason why it is best we are friends no more. Some friends are best for just a season, and the seasons have changed for us.
May you enjoy this next season of your life, whatever it brings.
Your Friend from the Biting Winter,
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